I visited my local Leather working shop this afternoon to buy a few things to assist me in working with the Rabbit Skins I have prepared. This is a part of the 13 skills I intend to develop this year. I have read a couple of instructions on the web on how to make Moccasins and while I appreciate that the people who wrote the guides know what they are doing, I wanted to try something different. I thought I would test out some methods I have read, yet modify them to suit my requirements. I want a pair of Moccasins that will keep my feet warm and dry, and are also strong on the sole to allow me to walk on rocks without slipping. I have been keeping my old pairs of Dunlop Volley sneakers when the sides rip apart (which always happens on my shoes… I suspect that I have wide feet). I intend to remove the canvas sides of the shoe and use the sole to create Moccasins.
With all this in mind I I bought:
10 metres of 3mm Kangaroo leather cord;
1 small Leather punch; and,
1 Glover’s needle.
I already have the Rabbit skins, a letter opener which can act as an Awl, and the old sneaker soles. The skins I am using have not been tanned. This is due to the Leather Working shop asking $70 for a tanning kit. I thought I would test out the design for the moccasins before I went to the expense of the tanning solution.
I decided to use, as a beginning point, the instructions I located at Woman of the Fur Trade. The moccasins they have made appear to be very simple to make, yet very useful.
Well, that turned out a little differently than I expected. The whole process was fairly simple, taking around 30 minutes to complete one moccasin. I have to admit that I only read part of the instructions, then spent the rest of the time looking at the pictures. Anyway, as a result my moccasin was a lot thinner than it should be and it split open when I placed my foot into it. While this was a failure, it wasn’t terrible. I have not really wasted the hide as I can re-use it for other purposes (such as a moccasin for one of my children), and I removed the leather cord so I can use it again. I also learned that I really should read instructions properly before jumping in.
I believe I have mentioned before that I am new to working with hides and furs. Instead of buying the commercial tanning kit I will experiment with a few different methods from the DIY world, such as this Kerosene and Bi-carb soda method. This seems like a nice little recipe which I could easily make from material I have at home. I also found an interesting guide on home tanning at Mother Earth News.
The methods provided by Mother Earth News seem to be more complex, so I will consider following them at a later date, yet they still provide interesting information.